$1.85 million, 1000 students and 100 teachers in West Texas armed with iBooks? We’ll find out by July if this dream will be come a reality!

Since early March 2004 I have been at work preparing two different Technology Immersion Pilot (TIP) grants with several West Texas school districts interested in immersing their students and teachers with technology. This “immersion” means one-to-one technology environments: where every student and every teacher will have their own laptop to use as needed within a wireless teaching and learning environment. These laptops are still owned by the school district, but available for the students and teachers to use 24/7– at home as well as at school. This week, both grants were finished and sent to the Texas Education Agency by the deadline– what a relief to be done!

TIP is an initiative modeled after the State of Maine’s successful laptop program, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (www.mainelearns.org.) For this first TIP RFA, the state of Texas allocated $12 million for approximately 30 immersion pilot programs at junior high schools across the state serving grades 6,7, and 8, and several district wide, vertical team, and secondary campus grants. I first learned about Maine’s project and thought about trying to help start a similar initiative here in West Texas when I attended NECC in Summer 2003 in Seattle. (My notes from that session are available.)

Our College of Education at Texas Tech University solicited interested, qualifying districts in our area to apply as a partnership for these grants, and four districts came forward to participate, as well as representatives of our Education Service Center. In the end, we wrote 2 grant applications together:
– A district level application for Ropes ISD, applying for $800,000 in funding
– A JHS partnership application for Floydada ISD, Post ISD, and Slaton ISD, applying for $1.05 million in combined funding ($350,000 per campus)

Our College of Education will assist in the provision of some professional development and community education training, as well as engaging in support and collaboration activities between our pre-service teacher education students and faculty, and ISD students on participating campuses. We will also assist with project evaluation, along with Dr. Christopher Moersch, creator of the Levels of Technology Implementation (LoTi) framework.

We went with Apple Inc. as our selected vendor for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important is their track record: Apple is successfully helping improve student achievement, student attendance, reported levels of student motivation to learn, etc, in other areas where they have been contracted to assist with one to one implementations. These are discussed in greater detail in the actual grant applications, which are available online (www.educ.ttu.edu/tip.) Some of these districts / campuses include:
Henrico County Virginia
Pleasanton ISD, Texas Ê
– More examples on are on www.apple.com/education/profiles

The software programs included in the Apple TIP vendor package are outstanding. The alternative Dell package has a comparatively miniscule amount of included professional development / support included, and only a few software programs. The ones included in the Apple package include:
NetTrekker (academic search engine)
Beyond Books
ExploreLearning Math & Science
KidBiz 3000
My Access Writing

Additionally, StandardsMaster software is provided for each student and teacher in the program, as well as Apple Professional Development. All participating campuses will have a Technology Integration Coach (TIC) who is a full-time, certified facilitator / instructional technology mentor. Those people will play a key role in successful implementation of this project, I think.

I hope our involvement as a College of Education at Texas Tech will continue to build upon the successes we had as partners in the statewide Technology Leadership Academy with TASA over the past 4 years. Part of my contribution toward that collaborative effort was a series of videos put together in Spring 2003, interviewing past superintendent and principal participants about what made the training worthwhile, and the key ingredients for successful technology integration across an entire campus or district. I also created a promotional video for the TLA linked from the TASA website.

Technology, especially in a one-to-one immersed environment, has tremendous potential to serve as a positive agent for broad-based, positive instructional change. I hope our TIP grant proposals are funded, not only for what it would mean for our students and teachers in these West Texas school districts, but also to further inform the body of “scientifically valid” educational research on the ingredients for authentically engaging teaching and learning in the 21st century classroom. If we are funded fully for both grants, 1024 students will receive iBooks, along with 101 teachers, who will also receive extensive training and support.

More information about ongoing Apple one-to-one projects and the research emerging from these initiatives is available on www.apple.com/education/onetoone. The site includes some excellent video interviews with superintendents, district technology directors, and others.

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